by Sarah Plowright-Williams, Kitchen Store Specialist

It’s no secret that veggies can be boring, especially for children. If your children are like I used to be, they look on anything green with suspicion and if it’s purple, well it must be from another planet. Purple can only be good if it’s in the form of clothes, namely a pretty party dress!

Spiralizers make vegetables fun to eat and they allow us to make healthier options; instead of adding the calories with pasta, make zucchini noodles with your favorite sauce instead. Oh, if only they’d had spiralizers in the 70’s, what a veggie fan I would have been……

In our test kitchen this week we put the KitchenAid spiralizing attachment through its paces. Sweet potatoes were our veggie of choice and everyone voted for spiral fries.

Gather The Supplies

KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment

Silpat Mat

Pinch Bowls

Sheet Pans

To Prepare

It helps if you choose a fairly long thin potato. Peel and cut off the ends. Attach your blade of choice. The KitchenAid offers 5: a fine and medium spiral blade, two slicing blades, and a peeler. We put the two spiral blades to the test.

It was super simple to use, just attach the potato to the vegetable mount and start the motor. The potatoes made perfect spirals in seconds and it was fun!

Cut & Bake

We cut the spirals into shorter lengths for ease of eating, misted with extra virgin oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper and the Summit Spice Ancho Chipotle Chili Blend.

We prepared two sheets; one with parchment paper and the other with a Silpat silicone mat, and laid the fries in a single layer.

Using the Jenn-Air True Convection Oven in our test kitchen for baking would give us the optimum conditions to crisp up the fries. True or European convection ovens are different than regular convection ovens in that they have a third heating element along with the fan which makes the temperatures more uniform in turn making dishes sear and caramelize better, making pastries lighter and flakier and the cooking time is reduced.

We baked the fries at 425F for about 20 minutes. Both the thin spiral and the larger spirals were very successful.

There was no noticeable difference between the sheets, so the parchment and Silpat both worked equally well. I’m now a spiralizing convert and can’t wait to try zucchini noodles with fresh Kodiak scallops and a white wine sauce!

No KitchenAid? No problem- try these other spiralizing products:

Microplane's Handheld Spiral Cutter with both a small and large barrel accommodates both long, slim and thick vegetables.

Or, this Tabletop Spiral Vegetable Slicer suctions to the table and has three blade insert choices so you can make fine spirals for veggie pasta, large spirals for fries, and flat spirals for pies and chips!

 

 

Strawberry yogurt ice cream popsicles with mint over steel tray background. Top view

Making yogurt at home is an exciting process and allows you to use only the ingredients you want. And now that the Cuisipro yogurt maker is collapsible for easy storage, the excuse of bulky equipment is out the kitchen window! Once you realize how simple it can be to make your own yogurt, especially the part about using the batch you've made to start another, you can virtually be making it everyday! With all that delicious dairy around, here's a simple recipe that makes a cool, refreshing dessert of your creation, and once again, you get to decide what goes in, so you can make them as sweet or tart as you like, with whatever berries you find in season. Imagine a Hatcher's Pass Blueberry version, or one full of your bumper crop of backyard raspberries - either way they'll make a special, healthy treat to share on the porch in the Midnight Sun!

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Ingredients:

1 C homemade yogurt

2 T Alaska Wildflower Honey

3 C strawberries

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With a strawberry huller, remove stems and wash berries. Reserve one cup of the largest berries to cut into thick slices, tip to base. With the small bowl in place, puree the other 2 cups of berries in a food processor with one tablespoon of honey until smooth.

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Stir up yogurt and remaining tablespoon honey to get a smooth, pourable thickness (if your yogurt is more set, you may need to add a bit of milk to reach a good texture). Place one or two slices of strawberry in each popsicle basin, pressing to edge. Fill basins 3/4 full with yogurt mixture and top off with pureed berries, or alternate for varied pops - even layers for stripes! Cover and insert sticks. Freeze until solid, at least  6 hours or overnight.

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by Sydnie McKinley, Kitchen Store Specialist

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The KitchenAid spiralizer is a really awesome attachment. Today was my first time using it and it was so much fun. The attachment is extremely easy to use. You just attach the spiralizer to the mixer at the attachment hub.

IMAG0414Then you choose what type of spiral you would like from the plates included: fine spiral, medium spiral, two different types of slicing, and you can also peel with it which is quite handy. After you have chosen which size you would like and set up the corresponding plate, you go ahead and put your veggie or fruit on to the skewer. We used zucchini and carrots, cut into about 4 inch segments. Pull the lever and tighten the plate snugly in front of the item being spiralized. Next, turn on your KitchenAid to about speed 4 and let it do its thing, which is to make quick, lovely spiraled 'noodles' or slices. Once it reaches the end of the cut veggie, you pull of the end nub and do it again!

IMAG0422A simple process with a very special result. Veggie noodles can be used in so many ways.

IMAG0425Steam or boil them and top with sauce, cut into bite-sized segments and serve with a fresh dressing, even roll up in wraps and fresh rolls.

IMAG0427Chef Cheryl added sliced avocado, some feta and a tortilla for a fresh salad wrap that will satisfy your summer cravings for a quick and healthy meal.

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Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon Blue Cattle Truck Pure Mexican Vanilla
1 teaspoon Red Velvet Baking Emulsion

Directions:
Prepare a straight sided baking pan with parchment strips that extend up and over the sides of the pan and secure with bulldog clips. Spray with Vegalene baking spray; set aside.

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Combine all ingredients, except vanilla and emulsion, in heavy 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes or until butter is melted and mixture comes to a boil.

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Continue cooking without stirring for an additional 25-30 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 244° or firm ball stage. (Your thermometer is a key tool here! We love the Maverick Digital model because it has the candy stages preprogrammed - so there's no guess work, ensuring your caramels won't be too soft, or pull teeth!)

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Remove pan from heat; quickly stir in vanilla and Red Velvet emulsion. Pour into prepared pan without scraping the bottom as caramel can scorch. Cool completely, preferably overnight.

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Once caramel is cooled, lift from pan and use a bench scraper, also sprayed with Vegalene, to cut into even cubes.

IMG_0578The cubes should hold their shape at room temperature to be ready for dipping.
Melt Callebaut white chocolate in the small double boiler insert over boiling water. Remove from water and stir until smooth.

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Using the chocolate dipping tools, dip each square to coat and set on a silpat lined baking sheet or parchment.

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Before chocolate sets, apply holly berry and snowflake sprinkles to each chocolate along with light sprinklings of Pure Alaska Sea Salt pyramids and/ or edible glitter. Molded chocolate shapes like pine cones or snowflakes also make nice toppings as well as adding other chocolate flavors to the finished candy.

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Once cooled, remove from silpat and package using chocolate paper cups and gift boxes.

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While chocolate is still warm, you can set the caramel on a chocolate transfer sheet. Once it cools the pattern will peel off the sheet with the chocolate, leaving a lovely design on the surface it contacts.

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Using clean cotton gloves to handle finished chocolates keeps them fingerprint free.         IMG_0609            IMG_0621

adapted from Aunt Emily's Soft Caramels recipe

 

By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

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When I think about strawberry shortcake, I instantly think of the “shortcake” style, which is basically like a sweeter version of the biscuit.

DSC_0313My experience with angel food cake growing up was the store-bought variety, which I was never a big fan of, probably because the foam-like sponge reminded me of washing the dishes! But as an adventurous baker, I was curious about homemade angel food cake, and therefore began my investigation.

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Most of the recipes I found were pretty standard; egg whites, superfine sugar, cake flour, salt, vanilla, and cream of tartar. The more research I did, the more apprehensive I became. There are a lot of people in the webisphere who have a love-hate relationship with angel food cake, because the beautiful, light-yet-moist, towering confection produced by their grandmothers is apparently pretty hard to achieve. But I’m a girl who loves a challenge, so I decided to give it a go. Besides, I’d conquered the intimidating French macaron, and I wasn’t going to let angel food cake intimidate me!

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Here’s the recipe I used, via hip2save.com:

1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
12 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

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First things first, you need an angel food cake pan. Do not grease your pan! I repeat, DO NOT GREASE YOUR PAN! The sides of the pan need to be ungreased so your cake can rise up the sides properly. Most angel food cake pans have a removable bottom, which is vital for removing the cake when it’s done.

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The egg whites need to be at room temperature. I got mine out about two hours before I was going to start baking. Separate the eggs one at a time, because if even a speck of yoke sneaks in, the whites won’t stiffen properly. I used the Oxo egg separator, which has a handy lip that attaches to the side of the bowl.

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Preheat the oven to 235 degrees. Whisk together cake flour and ¾ + 2 tbs of the superfine sugar. (If you don’t have superfine sugar, put your regular sugar into the food processor and pulse until it is superfine.) This mixture should be sifted twice through a flour sifter. Don’t try to cut corners here, people. Sift it twice.

DSC_0206If you don’t have any cake flour, never fear! Combine a scant cup of flour with two teaspoons of corn starch. This lowers the protein content of the flour, making it just like store-bought cake flour.

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Next, start whipping your egg whites. Whites must be whipped to soft peaks. If they get too stiff, the cake won’t have the right texture, so keep a close eye on them! While you whip, add the salt and cream of tartar.

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Once your whites look almost ready, add ¾ cup of the sugar, almond extract, and the vanilla. Once the egg whites are making soft peaks (the peaks should stand for a second, then slowly sink back into the mixture), stop mixing.

Using a flat spatula, slowly fold your dry and wet ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix, but make sure the flour gets fully incorporated into the whites. I overmixed mine just a bit, and the cake didn’t rise as high as I wanted, so tread lightly.

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Pour the mixture into the pan, and bake for 55 minutes in a 325 degree oven. While your cake is baking, the steam from the egg whites release, which causes the cake to rise. My cake took 35 minutes, (emitting a heavenly smell in the process!) and you can tell when it’s done by pressing your finger gently into the browned top. It should spring back. If it stays sunk down, cook a little longer.

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After you take your cake out of the oven, place it upside down over a bottle. This will keep your cake from flattening while it cools. Let it cool upside down for at least three hours, but preferably overnight. When it’s fully cooled and ready to serve, run a knife or off-set spatula around the edge and inner circle, and then turn your cake upside down to get it out. You’ll probably end up with some texture on the top—don’t worry. That’s what makes it homemade!

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We served our cake with fresh cut strawberries and whipped cream. Prepping the strawberries was extra slick thanks to the Chefn Stem Gem huller. The taste and texture of a homemade angel food cake is WAY better than the store bought! If you like angel food cake, it is definitely worth the trouble it takes to make it. My first attempt turned out delicious, but not flawless. I can’t wait to try it again to perfect my technique.

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By Ingrid Gadpaille, Kitchen Store Specialist

I want to talk about knives!

Knives are so important in the kitchen, and here at Allen and Petersen we offer 3 distinct brands: Kyocera Ceramic, Shun Stainless steel and Zwilling Stainless steel. I want to explain the basic construction techniques of each, their intended uses, and the excellent one time investment that high quality knives are.

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People often express hesitation about spending what can be a large sum of money on something that is pretty small! I think this comes from a lack of understanding about how important a good knife is to safely and quickly preparing food, how well it will hold an edge, how it can save you from yourself if you don’t have basic knife skills, and how knives may be small (usually) but they’re mighty!

I’ll start with the Kyocera knives from Japan; they’re something of a curiosity, having a ceramic blade, which just doesn’t seem like it could possibly be useful in food prep! Here are some amazing facts about Kyocera knives:

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The blade is harder than steel!

They’re second only to diamonds in hardness!

They will never rust or stain.

They stay sharper 10 times longer than steel knives.

They cannot react with food, including acidics, and they are totally inert, chemically.

The blade is comprised of the element Zircon which is initially compressed in a knife blade blank with 300 tons of pressure! The blanks are then hardened by firing at 1400 degrees for 48 hours. Each blade is hand sharpened and polished by traditional knife making masters! The handles are ergonomically shaped and molded plastic.

These ceramic knives are best suited for use with boneless meats or fish, softer vegetables and fruits. They are not meant to be used to cut through bones or very hard vegetables; in spite of their hardness, they can chip, I’ve done it! I blame myself, not the knife – like any tool, they work best when used as intended!

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Next on the list is Shun (pronounced “shoon”) also from Japan. We carry 3 lines of Shun:

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The Sora – The entry level line, excellent and beautiful knives for the price.

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The Classic – also beautiful and well balances so it can be used for the home or professional cook.

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The Premier – a very dramatic looking partially hammered blade, home or professional use line.

Some of the major features of Shun, across each line, are these:

The edge geometry is 16 degrees on each side, which is very fine, and is maintained by using superior steel – a proprietary blend of Chromium and carbon steel called VG-10 for the Sora edge, and the remainder of the blade being either 410 or 420J. Both are even more stain resistant than the VG-10. The Classic and Premier line are made from sandwiching VGMax- an extremely hard "super steel" that holds its edge longer. Shun has taken the time and effort to make the blade’s construction distinctive in all 3 lines, which takes them from strictly utilitarian to usable art! (In my opinion.) The handles are molded resin for the Sora, resin-impregnated Pakawood for the Classic line, and polished Pakawood for the Premier line. These knives can be used for many different purposes, with the shape of the blade making the use either very specific (like fileting) or more general, like a chef’s knife. See more details on each line in their catalog.

The third line of knives is the Zwilling, J.A. Henkels line from Solingen, Germany. This company dates back to 1731 and has one of the oldest trademarks – the Gemini Twins on the blades – in the world.

This company uses a high carbon, special formula steel that is ice-hardened as a single piece as part of the production process! The blade geometry is 22 degrees on both sides, and 3 of the lines offer “Full Tang” construction meaning that the knife is a single piece of metal that extends all the way to the end of the handle.

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Within the brand we have:

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The Four Star – an entry level line with the same ice-hardening blade process, a “hard” bolster and synthetic molded handles

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The Classic – A full tang, hard bolster and distinct 3 rivet handle.

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The Pro “S” - has a laser controlled edge that is exceptionally sharp, the Full Tang, and hard bolster.

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The Pro – all the same features as the Pro S line, but the bolster is “soft”, which is a new design feature that makes the knife easier to hold and use. The Bolster is where the blade transitions from flat to tang, and is where the knuckle of your first finger rests. The Full Tang lines all have molded resin handles that sandwich the tang.

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Okay, that’s all of the basics, whew! If you’re still with me, I want to talk about the more subjective, but really important aspects of knife knowledge, which is how they feel when you hold them. This is no small thing – if a knife doesn’t feel like an extension of your hand, you won’t want to reach for it as the tool you need to make your work go more easily.

The knife needs to feel light enough that you can move it in any direction easily, balanced enough that you don’t have to reposition your hand, ever, and it needs to fit your individual hand, be it small, medium or large. The shape of the handle and the bolster are also top considerations; I have small hands, so some of the chubby, “ergonomic” handles that are meant to fill the palm are too big for my hand and cause strain if I use them for too long. As well, a “hard” bolster can actually cause blisters, I’ve done that too! So, the soft bolster that was mentioned earlier is a really great design improvement!

Armed with this brief and basic information, when you feel ready to graduate to excellent quality knives that will last you the rest of your life (with proper use and care!) please consider coming in to Allen and Petersen to talk to our helpful sales staff and explore the possibilities that we have. And to keep your investment both safe and sharp, we have knife sets in storage blocks, empty blocks for your current collection, magnetic strips for wall storage, honing steels for interim blade maintenance and in home sharpeners as well. We also have knife bags for the professional to use in transporting personal knives to and from work. And even if you’re just interested in sharpening your own skills, or if you want to ‘test drive’ any of the knives mentioned above, we do offer Knife Skills classes so you can try your hand at all the different variations before selecting your first piece or building your collection.

By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

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S’mores are the quintessential outdoor summer dessert, and we are all addicted (with good reason). There’s nothing quite like the combination of melty chocolate, toasty marshmallow, and crisp graham crackers.

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No need for a campfire to enjoy delicious S’mores taste. We dreamed up a delicious peanut butter s’mores ice cream cake that was so tasty, we really were all begging for s’more! It’s as delicious as it is beautiful.

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This dessert looks fancy, but it’s really easy to make with help from the USA Pan springform pan, and of course, the chef’s torch to achieve the perfect toasty marshmallow flavor! Serve this up at your next barbecue, neighborhood potluck, or family party for a delicious, decadent taste of summer.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

First layer:

Graham crackers (full box)

1/2 Cup butter

1/4 Cup sugar

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Pulse about 15 crumbled graham crackers in a food processor to produce fine crumbs. Mix with 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar.

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Press with a measuring cup into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake at 350 for five minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

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2nd layer:

12 oz Callebaut chocolate chips

1 cup chunky peanut butter

5 graham crackers, in fourths

3/4 Cup mini marshmallows

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring intermittently.  Mix in peanut butter, and melt another 30 seconds as needed.

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Mixture should be thick and pourable. Pour chocolate mixture over graham cracker crust. Smooth out layer as needed.

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Taking the fourths of graham crackers, place evenly around the circumference of the pan, using the chocolate layer to hold them in place. Sprinkle marshmallows over chocolate, then place the pan in the freezer to set.

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3rd layer:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream, softened

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Mix the softened ice cream until it is soft serve consistency. After the pan has chilled, spread the chocolate ice cream over the other layers. Place back in freezer, and freeze until solid, at least 3 hours.

4th layer:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

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Place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water, and egg whites in the top half of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla. (adapted from Paula Dean’s 7 Minute Frosting recipe)

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Spread marshmallow frosting over ice cream layer, using a spoon to create peaks. Use a chef's torch to toast the top until peaks are golden brown.

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Loosen from springform and let cake soften at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tip- it's easiest to cut between the crackers to make even servings with a clean edge. So- whether it's one cracker wide or two for you- enjoy!

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By Chrissy Moff, Kitchen Store Specialist

Time is something we all value. Whether you have all the time in the world, or none at all, the Breville Fast Slow Cooker makes the most of what you have available. I personally have purchased this fantastic item, and like all the Breville products, I have yet to be disappointed.

The fast slow cooker has a large capacity of 6 quarts. This is a great feature for large families, dinner parties and even meal prepping. The 6qt cooking bowl is also non-stick and removable! This makes it super easy for serving and clean up. Some other great features are that it has an easy to read LCD display, pressure cook settings Low Medium and High. Breville also includes a couple heat resistant tools along with a steaming basket and trivet. My personal favorite of the cooking settings would have to be Slow Cook (6 or 8hrs) and Pressure Cook (up to 99 minutes). Both of these make putting together dinner an easy task.

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One of the greatest feelings is coming home and having dinner already done, with the fast slow cooker I’m able to put chicken (or a roast) into the cooking bowl, throw in some hard vegetables, season and then set the Slow Cook setting for 6hrs. After the time is up the automatic “Warm” setting comes on to maintain the heat of the dish without over cooking. If you are using frozen meats I recommend choosing the 8hr setting. The Pressure Cooking feature is amazing for when you’re short on time and need to pull something together in a rush. I put 4 chicken breasts into the cooking bowl, about 1 cup of water, selected 25mins on high pressure and sure enough, after 25 minutes I had perfectly cooked chicken ready, Remove the chicken and toss in some veggies into the steam basket and trivet. Put it on the Pressure Steam setting and in a few minutes they’re ready to accompany the chicken. Both of these settings eliminate the excuses of not having enough time to make a healthy dinner.

Breville Fast Slow Cooker
With features like Saute/Sear, Steam, Slow Cook, Pressure Cook or Keep Warm, plus a timed cook option- the Fast Slow Cooker combine the functions of multiple electrics to cook your meals just the way you want, in the time you have!

Combined with all the other great features, Breville’s Fast Slow Cooker really does it all. I personally have no complaints and totally love mine. 5 out of 5 stars for sure! Definitely an amazing asset to your kitchen.

 

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By Tina LeBaron, Kitchen Store Specialist

Playing with your food – it’s something we’re all taught not to do. But when cooking day after day starts feeling like no more than another mundane chore, investing in new kitchen tools can add a whole new level to cooking that makes “playing with your food” a good thing that loved ones will love sampling from!

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So what is one of my all time favorite kitchen tools you ask? The Messermeister Cheflamme Torch of course! I know what you’re thinking; you were also taught that playing with fire is bad. I’m sorry, but bending the rule and throwing a little flame into your kitchen adventures is a great way to keep cooking exciting.

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The first dish that inevitably comes to mind is crème brulee, of which our number one source for recipes comes from a book by Mastrad that unleashes numerous possibilities. Titled Crèmes Brulees: Hot, Cold, Sweet, and Savory, there is something for every palate in the book that will nicely accompany the trusty torch in your future shopping basket.  Candied Orange and Lemon sounds like a tempting flavor combination (my favorite!), and Smoky Bacon Crème Brulee cannot possibly go wrong. But don’t feel limited to only a single use for your fun new toy. Here are some more quick and easy ways to play with fire and food!

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Fresh fruit is wonderful just as it is, but with a quick coating of sugar passed over with your torch, you’ll create a wonderful candied crunch.

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Oranges, grapefruit, and pears were my test subjects. They took a bit more sugar than expected to get the desired caramelized effect. As the sugar heats and liquefies, it can tend to mix with the fruit juices and run right off, which made my pears the easiest to work with.

Chef Lucy suggests kicking them up a notch by poaching them before adding the brulee topping.

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Oatmeal is another fun excuse to bring out the torch. Try topping your next oatmeal breakfast with brown sugar, and melting it with a low flame. Jazz it up even more with your favorite fruits or preserves. Cherry Amaretto from the Petersen Family Pantry is a winner here in the Wasilla store. Next add a bit of milk or cream, and your simple breakfast has - just like that - edged towards gourmet!

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Next time you’re making cupcakes, try a meringue topping to toast with your torch, or this easy Seven Minute Frosting we put on a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes, found here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/seven-minute-frosting-recipe

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Indoor s’mores in any form imaginable are another obvious must-try when summertime campfires are out of season. My s’more interpretation came in the shape of a marshmallow toasted on a pretzel stick, dipped in some melted Callebeaut chocolate, topped with coconut, and roasted one more time! (Can you tell how much fun I’ve been having with my favorite tool?)

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The torch isn’t just for sweets. It turned out great for roasting provolone cheese over French onion soup and croutons.

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It’s also great for roasting red bell peppers.

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I used them two different ways. First was for a homemade pizza that had more than one element made with extra love: fresh dough prepared for the crust, a special white wine cream sauce, two proteins, and a jar of artichokes hearts… the red bell pepper needed to shine. We cut it so that it could lay flat, and quickly roasted it with a kitchen torch, adding another elevated layer of flavor to the pizza.

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We cut the top off of another red bell pepper before roasting it and using it as a tasty edible vessel for a quinoa salad.

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Alas, all roads lead back to… crème brulee? Try skipping the frosting on your next batch of sugar cookies, and go from plain-Jane to a fancy ode to crème brulee. Dip them both before and after baking in a bowl of sugar, then torch the tops just before eating.

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Add a little whipped cream and that cookie just turned into something new and exciting!

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Comment and share photos of your favorite uses for the torch, or another cooking gadget that keeps you having fun in your kitchen!

by Tina LeBaron, Kitchen Store Specialist

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So, you’re shopping for cutting boards…..

Before you feel like you have to narrow it down to just one, keep in mind that it’s a great habit to have a couple different boards for different foods, especially to ensure no cross contamination from raw meats in your cooking. Here’s the lowdown on our favorites.

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John Boos

Let’s start with the perfect surface for prepping meat. A John Boos block is the heavy-duty professional grade option in cutting boards - the leading manufacturer of wooden butcher blocks, in fact. Made in Illinois since 1887 these sturdy blocks are available in maple, cherry, and walnut. A Boo’s block is great because they are weighted and won’t slide around during serious meat butchering jobs, and will withstand cracking from heavy knife use. Your knives will hold they’re edge longer on the soft wood surface compared to using something harder. They take just a bit of loving care to prolong their life in your kitchen. Just wash with warm soapy water and dry completely. The wood is preserved by applying John Boos mystery oil or cream periodically, and can be given a like-new surface with a light sanding if needed. Fight any odors and stains using salt and lemon or lime juice as a scrubbing agent, or a quick soak in a vinegar solution for extra disinfecting. Despite the belief that wood harbors pesky and potentially dangerous bacteria, these boards are National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved, and the notion has been scientifically disproven. Read more about the details of the study here: http://www.johnboos.com/uploads/files/PDF/wood-vs-plastic-cutting-boards.pdf.

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Totally Bamboo

Bamboo boards are perfect for those who are eco-conscious by nature, and as of yet, these have been the most popular choice in cutting boards. Bamboo comes in ranking 16 percent harder than maple, a third lighter than oak, yet incredibly tough. The bamboo plant is exceptionally sustainable - after harvest it grows back in only four and a half years compared to the 30-60 year growth cycle of most other wood options. Being that bamboo absorbs very little moisture, shrinking and swelling that can crack a cutting board is reduced, but it does still require periodic oiling or else cracking will be an issue, particularly in our Alaskan climate.

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Epicurean

Made in Duluth, MN, these handy boards are easy to maintain, dishwasher safe (score!), and do not harbor any bacteria whatsoever. Made of multiple layers of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified organic wood fibers pressed with a food-safe resin, Epicurean boards are lightweight for mobility and easy storage, can withstand temps up to 350 degrees, and there's no need to keep them pampered and oiled and they are tough as can be. The proof is in the pudding… Epicurean’s material was originally made for skate park surfaces! The pressed wood compound stands strong against abuse from weather and skaters, making their kitchen tasks a piece of cake in comparison.

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They come in a variety of shapes and sizes – like our favorites, the mustache or salmon, an iPad holding board, some with nifty rubber feet to hold it in place and others with grooved borders and textured surfaces to reduce sliding for heavy duty carving. And, it’s always nice to hear that the company has earned multiple awards for ethical business practices while each year employees participate in a tree-planting day to offset the manufacturing process.

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Timber Live Edge Walnut

Here we have a board of stunning rustic beauty, perfect for serving. Made in Ontario, Canada, the “live edge” is true to the shape of the tree it was harvested from. Even though these handsome walnut boards can be used for cutting and not just serving, the silky smooth finish makes for a functional display item, not unlike a piece of furniture. Each item sold by Timbers is hand carved with superb craftsmanship and the perfect gift for the gourmet “foodie” in your life. Again, with a wood so fine, avoid the dishwasher and don’t forget to give it an occasional oiling.

For those seeking to hone their knife skills, there's even a cutting board from Fred marked with the dimensions of popular knife cuts from 'cubed' to 'diced' to 'julienned'!

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Now C-HOP to it!